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Tom Appleby, Convict Boy

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At the tender age of eight, chimney sweep Tom Appleby is convicted of stealing and sentenced to deportation to Botany Bay. As one of the members of the First Fleet, he arrives in a country that seemingly has little to offer - or little that the English are used to, anyway.


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At the tender age of eight, chimney sweep Tom Appleby is convicted of stealing and sentenced to deportation to Botany Bay. As one of the members of the First Fleet, he arrives in a country that seemingly has little to offer - or little that the English are used to, anyway.

30 review for Tom Appleby, Convict Boy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Phrynne

    This is a junior historical fiction book and you must go and have a look at the reviews. I feel sorry for Jackie French because children are very tough reviewers! I thought it was a very good story with lots of accurate historical information which would be a valuable tool in teaching our history to children. The central character is a young boy who is deported from England for stealing. He manages to make his way in Australia and we are aware throughout the book that he not only survives being a This is a junior historical fiction book and you must go and have a look at the reviews. I feel sorry for Jackie French because children are very tough reviewers! I thought it was a very good story with lots of accurate historical information which would be a valuable tool in teaching our history to children. The central character is a young boy who is deported from England for stealing. He manages to make his way in Australia and we are aware throughout the book that he not only survives being a convict but that he also makes a real success of his life. I felt that the author made a really good job of presenting how things were in those days without delving too deeply into the horror of the prison ships and the initial years of the founding of Sydney. It was written at a level children could cope with without omitting basic historical facts. I liked it and would recommend it for later primary students who have a good reading ability.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Miss Soszynski

    Book Description A story of transportation and life in a new world. At the tender age of eight, chimney sweep Tom Appleby is convicted of stealing and sentenced to deportation to Botany Bay. As one of the members of the First Fleet, he arrives in a country that seemingly has little to offer - or little that the English are used to, anyway. Luckily, not long after Tom′s arrival in the colony, the fair and kind Sergeant Stanley decides to take on Tom as a servant. Together Tom, Sergeant Stanley and Book Description A story of transportation and life in a new world. At the tender age of eight, chimney sweep Tom Appleby is convicted of stealing and sentenced to deportation to Botany Bay. As one of the members of the First Fleet, he arrives in a country that seemingly has little to offer - or little that the English are used to, anyway. Luckily, not long after Tom′s arrival in the colony, the fair and kind Sergeant Stanley decides to take on Tom as a servant. Together Tom, Sergeant Stanley and his son, Rob, build a house, set up an orchard and a vegetable garden for themselves - and thrive, unlike many others in the new colony. Jackie French weaves Tom′s story in with the story of the development of Australia. She tells of a colony that, despite its natural abundance, cannot offer what the colonists want - familiarity. While the people′s health is better than it ever was in England, their morale is low as they wait for news from home. Write your own review on what you have read so far.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Shane Harcombe

    3 1/2 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed the second half of this book, once we finally arrived in Australia and started exploring life in the early years of the settlement. As a teacher, that is my purpose for reading (and having my students read) this book, to gain greater insights as to what life was like for the early convicts and settlers, and how they related to the indigenous people of the time. In the afterward, Ms French discusses how she set out to dispel some of the myths associated with the F 3 1/2 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed the second half of this book, once we finally arrived in Australia and started exploring life in the early years of the settlement. As a teacher, that is my purpose for reading (and having my students read) this book, to gain greater insights as to what life was like for the early convicts and settlers, and how they related to the indigenous people of the time. In the afterward, Ms French discusses how she set out to dispel some of the myths associated with the First Fleet and early settlement. She definitely achieves this goal, and I was surprised at some of the details she reveals. The one disappointment for me was how long we spent in England, giving background to Tom's story. Some was interesting, but I felt it went on too long. I am also not sure the device of having Tom reflecting on his life was particularly useful or helpful. I found those chapters more an imposition, delaying development of the story, than enjoyable. Well worth reading, in spite of these issues and I look forward to seeing what my class thinks of the story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor Silvae

    This was one of my favourite books when I was of age with Tom, i.e 8 or 9. I probablly wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much now but at that age, when I was in the intended age group it was a brilliant book! It probably helped that we were studying this period of Australian history at school. I haven't read it in years but I'll always remember it as an early favourite, that I obsessively read again and again and sparked a life long fascination with historical fiction. A great kid's book! This was one of my favourite books when I was of age with Tom, i.e 8 or 9. I probablly wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much now but at that age, when I was in the intended age group it was a brilliant book! It probably helped that we were studying this period of Australian history at school. I haven't read it in years but I'll always remember it as an early favourite, that I obsessively read again and again and sparked a life long fascination with historical fiction. A great kid's book!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    I read this book to see if it supported the primary school History curriculum and it didn't disappoint. Detailed descriptions of life in 18th century London and the first settlement in Australia must surely help bring this topic to life for children listening to this novel as a read-aloud or reading it for their own pleasure. I read this book to see if it supported the primary school History curriculum and it didn't disappoint. Detailed descriptions of life in 18th century London and the first settlement in Australia must surely help bring this topic to life for children listening to this novel as a read-aloud or reading it for their own pleasure.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Veronica Ratna

    + Realistic portrayal / historical accuracy of 18th century England, first fleet journey to Australia & forming of colony in Sydney + Focus on courage, perseverance, hope & friendship + Likeable & relatable protagonist - Slow in parts - Made me miss Sydney so much 7.5/10

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amy Herman

    Was an excellent book that gave great insight to the conditions faced by the convicts on their journey to Australia and life in the first colony at Sydney Cove. I was pre reading it for my 12 and 14 year old sons, who will be reading it as part of their Australian History course this year. There were a few areas, that I felt I may be uncomfortable with my boys reading, but have decided to do it as a read aloud, so that we can discuss these themes together Over all I really enjoyed it, and am consi Was an excellent book that gave great insight to the conditions faced by the convicts on their journey to Australia and life in the first colony at Sydney Cove. I was pre reading it for my 12 and 14 year old sons, who will be reading it as part of their Australian History course this year. There were a few areas, that I felt I may be uncomfortable with my boys reading, but have decided to do it as a read aloud, so that we can discuss these themes together Over all I really enjoyed it, and am considering Jackies's book on the Eureka stockade too.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I read this book to preview it before reading it to my grade 5 class. It’s a great read for middle school children to get a better idea of life leading up to and the beginning of the early colonisation of Australia. I am fascinated by this period of our history and French does an excellent job of painting a picture of these times. A few weaknesses for me were the uneventful conclusion and the addition of sections of Tom as an older man. French tackles some adult themes well for the intended audi I read this book to preview it before reading it to my grade 5 class. It’s a great read for middle school children to get a better idea of life leading up to and the beginning of the early colonisation of Australia. I am fascinated by this period of our history and French does an excellent job of painting a picture of these times. A few weaknesses for me were the uneventful conclusion and the addition of sections of Tom as an older man. French tackles some adult themes well for the intended audience. I really enjoyed reading about this section of our history.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    My 10 year old son and I loved this book. It was incredibly informative regarding life in London in the 1700's and the first convict fleet to NSW. The life of an orphan in England was hard and tragic, which this novel portrayed in excellent detail and with empathy. A good story too, with lots of talking points and interesting facts of the life of our ancestors. It also crossed paths with "Nanberry" also by Jackie French, taken from a different perspective. My 10 year old son and I loved this book. It was incredibly informative regarding life in London in the 1700's and the first convict fleet to NSW. The life of an orphan in England was hard and tragic, which this novel portrayed in excellent detail and with empathy. A good story too, with lots of talking points and interesting facts of the life of our ancestors. It also crossed paths with "Nanberry" also by Jackie French, taken from a different perspective.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lainey Christensen

    Although this book is creative, original and certainly interesting and intriguing, I enjoy faster paced books. I'm disappointed to say that I found this book slightly boring and very slow at times, so am rating this as only a 2. Although this book is creative, original and certainly interesting and intriguing, I enjoy faster paced books. I'm disappointed to say that I found this book slightly boring and very slow at times, so am rating this as only a 2.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matt Leo

    Incredible story line.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    Sad story with a happy ending about how a nice boy could end up being a convict on the first fleet. Then, life and times in the early colony. Should be quite a quick read but I took a break halfway through and dragged it out too long. I found the early part of the book in England and on the voyage more informative than the second half when he arrives in the colony as there was more new information in the first half than the second half for me personally. It may be different for another reader. I Sad story with a happy ending about how a nice boy could end up being a convict on the first fleet. Then, life and times in the early colony. Should be quite a quick read but I took a break halfway through and dragged it out too long. I found the early part of the book in England and on the voyage more informative than the second half when he arrives in the colony as there was more new information in the first half than the second half for me personally. It may be different for another reader. I was intrigued by the chimney sweep part of the story more than anything. Tom Appleby is a very likable character which makes it fun to read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    This book offers a look into what life was like around the time the First Fleet arrived in Australia. The beginning of the book is a bit slow as it describes life in England for young Tom Appleby. It picks up once the voyage to Australia begins. Some of the language and situations would not be suitable for young children. Otherwise, it was an engaging and educational story which my children and I all really enjoyed.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Astrid

    it was a good book and told a good story about the country's history, how it really happened. I haven't read anything by Jackie French before, and I found that I quite enjoy her writing, though it is a little hard to follow how time passes throughout the book, which I think took away from the story. it was a good book and told a good story about the country's history, how it really happened. I haven't read anything by Jackie French before, and I found that I quite enjoy her writing, though it is a little hard to follow how time passes throughout the book, which I think took away from the story.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pema

    I personally think that this is a great book to read just because, even though the book is fictional, it still gives you the information about the history back then. The book teaches you about courage (not specifically in the book but gives you hints). The book has a lot of themes going on, friendship, adventure, independence and etc...

  16. 5 out of 5

    sharon haste

    A beau yt? If uilly written history I loved this story, the characters amd early Australian history. Its beautifully written, rich in Australian history and culture and an emotive tale.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kiara

    Great basis! I loved the storyline and enjoyed the way Jackie French wrote the story. It got quite repetitive and long towards the end but you felt genuinely happy when it was done as it had a nice round ending.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kristie Evans

    I read this as a little kid... absolutely LOVED it!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Skye

    Some part were very sad but it was interesting learning about chimney sweepers and about Tom's life in Australia. Some part were very sad but it was interesting learning about chimney sweepers and about Tom's life in Australia.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jacquie

    Such a great read during childhood years. Loved it!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pasha

    Great book so far up to were jem takes to to the secret wall

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aisha

    2020 Reading Rush book #3.5. 3.5/5 This was so cute! Despite being born in Australia, I wasn’t 100% sure about the specific events of the First Fleet. This really helped me learn more about how Australia was colonised. I really liked how we got to see some of Tom as a great-grandfather and how his past influenced him at such an old age. Also, integrating older Tom’s story in between younger Tom’s story flowed really well. My only issue was that it was a bit slow at times. Also, it felt a bit anti 2020 Reading Rush book #3.5. 3.5/5 This was so cute! Despite being born in Australia, I wasn’t 100% sure about the specific events of the First Fleet. This really helped me learn more about how Australia was colonised. I really liked how we got to see some of Tom as a great-grandfather and how his past influenced him at such an old age. Also, integrating older Tom’s story in between younger Tom’s story flowed really well. My only issue was that it was a bit slow at times. Also, it felt a bit anticlimactic and the writing style wasn’t that great. I’m still really glad I read it! — Aisha.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lynda

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. “Tom Appleby, Convict Boy” by Jackie French is an insightful and moving account of the fictitious life of a 1770’s chimney sweep, based on historical fact. Young Tom Appleby is born into tumultuous times in England, and events overcome him and his father so that Tom is left orphaned and in the poorhouse. From here he is sold as a chimney-sweep, a life of horrifying deprivation, fear and filthy work. Becoming a thief out of necessity, Tom is caught but his death-sentence is commuted to transporta “Tom Appleby, Convict Boy” by Jackie French is an insightful and moving account of the fictitious life of a 1770’s chimney sweep, based on historical fact. Young Tom Appleby is born into tumultuous times in England, and events overcome him and his father so that Tom is left orphaned and in the poorhouse. From here he is sold as a chimney-sweep, a life of horrifying deprivation, fear and filthy work. Becoming a thief out of necessity, Tom is caught but his death-sentence is commuted to transportation for 7 years – to the new colony of New South Wales. Tom sails on the First Fleet, and encounters a harsh new land. His survival becomes dependent on his growing understanding of the land and native people, as well as Tom’s unrelenting hard work and the help of Sergeant Stanley and his son. French aimed to provide insights into the earliest white settlement of Australia, dispelling some myths through her knowledge of her own personal family history as well as research. She is a brilliant author, able to evoke empathy and understanding.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Red Rocky

    I bought this book for my 11 year old son to read during a school project on the First Fleet, convicts & early settlers in Sydney. I read it as well and really enjoyed it. Once again, an insight into the incredible hardship of these little kids being forced up chimneys and with such a disregard to their lives. Tom was one of the lucky ones and was sent from England to Sydney on the first fleet of convict ships. He was fortunate enough to end up working for an English soldier & his son who treate I bought this book for my 11 year old son to read during a school project on the First Fleet, convicts & early settlers in Sydney. I read it as well and really enjoyed it. Once again, an insight into the incredible hardship of these little kids being forced up chimneys and with such a disregard to their lives. Tom was one of the lucky ones and was sent from England to Sydney on the first fleet of convict ships. He was fortunate enough to end up working for an English soldier & his son who treated him very well. My son really enjoyed this book too, so much so that I bought him Nanberry Black Brother White (another Jackie French) for xmas. Nanberry is the Aboriginal boy who lived with some of the settlers. Looking forward to reading this one too.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    This is a subject area that I'm very interested in, and French goes into a great deal of detail about life in the 1700s in England and in Australia. For these historical details, I enjoyed the novel. But the plot of this novel was lacking. There's a story, but it lacks conflict. Our main character, Tom Appleby, lacks agency, and the 'flash forwards' show us the happy ending early, giving us no suspense. French's knowledge of this historical era is clearly extensive, but it seems she more wanted to This is a subject area that I'm very interested in, and French goes into a great deal of detail about life in the 1700s in England and in Australia. For these historical details, I enjoyed the novel. But the plot of this novel was lacking. There's a story, but it lacks conflict. Our main character, Tom Appleby, lacks agency, and the 'flash forwards' show us the happy ending early, giving us no suspense. French's knowledge of this historical era is clearly extensive, but it seems she more wanted to show off this knowledge (complete with foot notes!) than get us connected to and feeling for the protagonist.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    An historical junior fiction book. After a trip to Port Arthur, Tasmania, I have become very interested in the early days of the settlement of Australia. Thought I would start with this novel, which for many years was on the English curriculum at the school where I work. It is the story of Tom Appleby, who was orphaned at the age of 8. He was made to work as a chimney-sweep in deplorable conditions until he was caught stealing and so started his long journey to the otherside of the world. Tom's An historical junior fiction book. After a trip to Port Arthur, Tasmania, I have become very interested in the early days of the settlement of Australia. Thought I would start with this novel, which for many years was on the English curriculum at the school where I work. It is the story of Tom Appleby, who was orphaned at the age of 8. He was made to work as a chimney-sweep in deplorable conditions until he was caught stealing and so started his long journey to the otherside of the world. Tom's luck changed when he was taken in by one of the Marines. When the supply ships failed to arrive it became very grim whether you were a convict, marine or gentry. A great read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katharine (Ventureadlaxre)

    Tom Appleby, Convict Boy by Jackie French is about an eight-year old thief of is part of the first fleet, and witnesses the very early Australia and what it was like. Lucky enough to be picked by a firm but kind higher-ranted officer who has a son of his own of almost the same age, Tom comes to learn of what future he can earn from himself, as well as the horrors and cruelties of life, especially the differences between right and wrong, as he’s surrounded by convicts and soldiers (who aren’t muc Tom Appleby, Convict Boy by Jackie French is about an eight-year old thief of is part of the first fleet, and witnesses the very early Australia and what it was like. Lucky enough to be picked by a firm but kind higher-ranted officer who has a son of his own of almost the same age, Tom comes to learn of what future he can earn from himself, as well as the horrors and cruelties of life, especially the differences between right and wrong, as he’s surrounded by convicts and soldiers (who aren’t much better).

  28. 5 out of 5

    James Patmore

    This was a really cool book! It follows the story of a young boy, named Thomas Appleby, who through horrific events and a life cursed with poverty, slavery, malnutrition, poor health, death and starvation, Tom finally makes his way to the top. This story was not only a real eye-opener for me, but it was very immersive in the sense that you could really get into it, making the book feel more historically accurate. Over all a great book, one that I've enjoyed reading and I would recommend to any othe This was a really cool book! It follows the story of a young boy, named Thomas Appleby, who through horrific events and a life cursed with poverty, slavery, malnutrition, poor health, death and starvation, Tom finally makes his way to the top. This story was not only a real eye-opener for me, but it was very immersive in the sense that you could really get into it, making the book feel more historically accurate. Over all a great book, one that I've enjoyed reading and I would recommend to any other historical-fiction fans. 5/5 stars - Jackie French's Tom Appleby: Convict boy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    i didnt really like the book to much. i thinhk how they wrote it and how they spoke was sometimes hard to understand. and i thought that the book went over and over a bit and spoke to much about tom and master jack and his frineds, there was no suprise really like the book didnt build and supense or anything. i think if there was more characters and more interesting stuff in the book it would have been more un to read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hina

    this book is good becuz it shows dat u shouldnt give up and be strong and to noe how history. history is great becuz gives u a lot of gud knowledge dats the only reason y i give this book an OK. or else this is really boringg. and yea i like the character of tom becuz he neva gives up and he picks himself up when he is down dats and history only reasons y i like this book. :)

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